UPDATE 1:25 p.m: CLARIFICATION: Event was on calendar per Goree; other ELBC days previously scheduled

UPDATE 2:53 p.m.: CLARIFICATION: CCPS distinguishes how it uses the term “virtual learning”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The term “virtual learning” is defined in a number of ways across pedagogical (teaching) literature, some of which include teacher instruction (live or asynchronous) via computer, some of which do not. CCPS uses it in a particular way to mean “remote learning“–a student attending class live from home. ELBC is a form of computer-aided independent study. While CCPS issued an “announcement” Tuesday about Friday’s ELBC day, it later confirmed the information had been announced previously. We have updated the headline and the story to reflect this clarification and CCPS’ use of these pedagogical terms. –RK

by Robin Kemp

All Clayton County Public School students from pre-K through 12th grades will learn remotely on Friday.

According to a statement from CCPS, “Clayton County Public Schools is excited to announce that this Friday, August 27, 2021 is the first Extended Learning Beyond the Classroom (ELBC) Day for 2021-2022. All students in grades Pre-K-12 will remain home for asynchronous (independent) learning, while staff report to work for in-person training, lesson planning, and/or data analysis.”

CCPS says all students will take home their Friday breakfasts and lunches from school (in person) on Thursday.

The school district stressed that “This is a learning day” and that students would get their assignments from their teachers and work independently from home.

To do so, students will need, “in most cases”:

  • a computer device
  • reliable Internet access
  • access to Canvas or Google Classroom
  • access to digital textbooks and/or online learning platforms

CCPS says that all students will be counted as present. Students also “will be expected to adhere to their teacher’s procedures for completing and submitting assignments.”

Some parents said the classes were not “virtual” because they are ELBC. They expressed concern that The Clayton Crescent’s use of the term “virtual” implied students would no longer attend classes in person.

The term “virtual learning” refers to learning online. Some definitions specify that is with a teacher and other students online. Other definitions merely describe “virtual learning” as learning while using computers. Still others define it as any learning that takes place outside of a physical classroom, computers or not.

The Clayton Crescent asked CCPS to clarify what it means by “virtual learning,” which appears in conjunction with ELBC in at least three places on its website.

Clayton County Board of Education President Jessie Goree said the event has been on the school calendar, and that similar ELBC dates are scheduled for September 17, October 8, October 29, and November 19.

Asked to clarify the difference between how CCPS uses the term “virtual learning,” CCPS spokesman Charles White said, “As it relates to ELBC and virtual, while both are remote in nature, virtual learning is active instructor/teacher led, while ELBC is, in a sense, independent study as our teachers are otherwise engaged in the activities outlined in the advisory and our students are working on their own.”

ELBC days started last year, White said, after feedback from principals and teachers who “really saw the value in the concept of teachers having this uninterrupted time to plan and learn from one another in order to better support students’ learning needs.” Because the students “would be return[ing] in the fall on varying emotional and academic levels…our teachers would benefit from having at least one Friday per month (in most cases) to sharpen their professional knowledge and expertise in order to better meet the needs of our students.”

All students, except those enrolled in the School Based Virtual Learning Program and those in schools that have pivoted to temporary virtual instruction, will be back in class in person on Monday, August 30, White said. Church Street Elementary and Kendrick Middle will go back to school in person on Monday, August 30. Kay Pace Elementary School of the Arts return to campus Thursday, September 2. Smith Elementary and Rex Mill Middle will be on school grounds again Tuesday, September 7.

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